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Senior Executive Recruiting is still a Headhunter's Market

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Category: Articles
Date Published: 2019-07-09

Senior Executive Recruiting is still a Headhunter's Market

We occupy a very small niche in the market and over the last 15 years we have represented some outstandingly successful, securely employed executives looking to advance their career.

In so doing, we have witnessed at first hand the technology-driven changes that have largely reshaped the recruiting marketplace lately, and the particular problems - for employers and candidates alike - created by this tide of change. 

One real issue for everyone is how to gain access to key decision makers in the corporate world. Top talent is turned away along with the rest of the crowd and invited to search company websites for suitable openings. Here are a few reasons why they would not - indeed, should not do that:

  1. For a start, they will have no expectation of finding advertised positions at their level of seniority. Conventional wisdom still maintains that over 80% of senior executive positions are filled via the unadvertised jobs market. So the puffery about looking through corporate jobs boards for senior executive positions is at best disingenuous.
  2. Robots search company websites too - and the job board consolidators broadcast these opportunities to the world, and the world responds with resumes - in their tens of thousands - which computers then sift through, looking for keyword matches and grey suits. The chances of getting through the sift are no better than a lottery, so the exercise is a waste of precious time.
  3. Once a resume is posted online, it remains in the system. It is unlikely to be found if a suitable opportunity arises, because the database contains such a multitude of resumes that the first trawl will always be a keyword search – again, the keyword match lottery is doomed to fail.
  4. What happens if the same individual is identified some time later, from a separate source, and this time they are considered a viable candidate? If their resume turns up in the company's database (easily found this time, on an executive name search), there is a serious risk that it will be assessed for the current opportunity and - without the executive even knowing that they were considered for a role - rejected because the resume has not been updated with the relevant detail.

Companies who handle their own talent acquisition must recognize that the best senior executive talent will not be found in the company database. Nor through the social media networks. Those who value their personal brand will not be advertising their availability online, disclosing information they are not at liberty to share.

If in-house talent acquisition is the new norm, the corporate world must look beyond Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) and social media recruiting. If it is to find the best candidates for its executive teams and top management, it must retain the human dimension of professional executive search.

The best executive search consultants maintain connections with top talent. They keep eyes and ears to the ground, store their knowledge, build relationships. They keep personal records of their contacts (anecdotally, headhunters rarely place candidates found on their own firm’s database) and they know where to go to find candidates that match the mandates they win.

Which is why senior executive recruiting is and should remain the preserve of the headhunter. Whether it is handled in-house or by a third party, there is no viable substitute for the human dimension in the selection of candidates – and no better talent pool than a group of candidates which has been assessed by humans. 

Altitude Executives has been developed exclusively for the most senior levels of talent - a forum where candidates and talent seekers from around the world can connect directly.


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